About 4.5 million energy customers in the Kyiv region are experiencing stabilization blackouts because of Russian attacks on infrastructure, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday. Vitali Klitschko, mayor of the city that bears the region’s name, discouraged panic and urged caution after one of his officials reported plans to evacuate should Kyiv fully lose electricity.
Zelensky also called for Iran to be punished on the international stage after that nation’s foreign minister confirmed that Tehran had supplied Moscow with drones before its full-scale Ukrainian invasion this year.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects around the world.
1. Key developments
- The damage to Ukraine’s power grid is dire and becoming even more of a concern as winter approaches. Kyiv authorities sought to reassure residents after the New York Times reported that the city was planning for the possibility of evacuating its 3 million residents if a Russian strike were to cause a full blackout. “Everything is under control in the capital, and there’s no reason to talk about an emergency,” Roman Tkachuk, who heads the security department of Kyiv’s municipal government, said Sunday on Telegram after the Times published his interview. Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said on Telegram that people could help the country’s efforts to stabilize the grid by reducing the amount of power they use. The region should expect managed blackouts, the state-owned energy operator Ukrenergo posted on Facebook.
- Iran’s foreign minister said his country supplied Russia with a “limited number of drones” months before the invasion. But Hossein Amirabdollahian said Iran had not received any confirmation that they had been used in Ukraine. Iran has repeatedly denied supplying Moscow with drones to use in Ukraine.
- Ukraine has long accused Russia of using Iranian-made drones, and U.S. officials said the United States had examined the wreckage of Iranian-made drones shot down in Ukraine. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, called for strikes targeting Iranian facilities manufacturing drones and ballistic missiles in response to Tehran’s support of Russia, the RBC-Ukraine news agency reported.
2. Battleground updates
- The Ukrainian military on Sunday accused Russian forces of destroying private boats in the Kherson area. In a statement, a Ukrainian General Staff spokesperson said that Moscow had appropriated engines from the destroyed vessels and that fuel had leaked into the Dnieper River’s delta. The statement also said people were being ordered to leave nearby Beryslav by Nov. 10, with Russian occupying forces allegedly citing a Ukrainian plan to blow up the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam. Kyiv has denied the allegation and said the Kremlin has planned to carry out such a strike.
- Zaporizhzhia was hit by Russian strikes overnight, said the regional governor, Oleksandr Starukh. At least one person died, and rockets caused serious damage to property, including a two-story building, two cars and a plot of land, according to Starukh.
- Reports that Russia’s Central Military District had appointed a new commander would signal the latest in “a series of dismissals of senior Russian military commanders” since Russia’s invasion, Britain’s Defense Ministry said. Dismissing commanders when things don’t go Russia’s way on the battlefield is “in part likely an attempt to insulate and deflect blame from Russian senior leadership at home,” the ministry wrote.
- An attack in southern Ukraine left Russian-controlled Kherson and surrounding areas without power, Kremlin-backed authorities said Sunday. It was not immediately clear who was responsible. Each country has accused the other of planning an attack on the city, which Russia illegally annexed in the summer.
3. Global impact
- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will propose that the bloc give Ukraine 1.5 billion euros per month, “which would contribute significantly to cover Ukraine’s financing needs for 2023.” The proposal would include up to 18 billion euros to help Ukraine, “particularly over the winter,” she said in a statement Sunday. The announcement comes after a meeting with Zelensky in which he said they “touched upon the issue of strengthening sanctions and opposing the actions of Iran, which supports aggression against our country.”
- A Taiwanese man who was fighting in Ukraine has died, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said. In a statement, the ministry said a Ukrainian army commander confirmed to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry that a Taiwanese man with the last name Tseng had died. It added that the family had yet to formally identify the body. Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported that Tseng Sheng-kuang, 25, joined a group of foreign volunteer fighters and was killed in action Wednesday. He is thought to be the first Taiwanese person to die in combat in Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his controversial visit to China was “worth it” after he and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to oppose any use of nuclear weapons in the Ukraine war. The Chinese government readout of their meeting said the leaders agreed to “oppose the threat or use of nuclear weapons, advocate that nuclear weapons cannot be used and that nuclear wars must not be fought, and prevent a nuclear crisis in Eurasia.” Scholz is the first Group of Seven leader to visit China since the start of the pandemic.
4. From our correspondents
U.S. privately asks Ukraine to show it’s open to negotiate with Russia: The Biden administration is privately encouraging Ukraine’s leaders to signal an openness to negotiate with Russia and drop their public refusal to engage in peace talks unless President Vladimir Putin is removed from power, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The request by American officials is not aimed at pushing Ukraine to the negotiating table, these people said. Rather, they called it a calculated attempt to ensure the government in Kyiv maintains the support of other nations facing constituencies wary of fueling a war for many years to come.
The discussions illustrate how complex the Biden administration’s position on Ukraine has become, as U.S. officials publicly vow to support Kyiv with massive sums of aid “for as long as it takes” while hoping for a resolution to the conflict that over the past eight months has taken a punishing toll on the world economy and triggered fears of nuclear war.